NEW ORLEANS – The show didn’t end for John Wall when he threw down a double-pump reverse dunk to claim the first slam dunk title in Wizards franchise history. His celebratory dance with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was merely the appetizer for the event that he has waited four years to be a participant.
Wall swears he has a little more up his sleeve for the 63rd annual all-star game at Smoothie King Center.
“I like to do stuff in front of the crowd,” Wall said.
With his athleticism and play-making ability, Wall expects to provide a few highlights – possibly an alley-oop lob or two to LeBron James or his own even a windmill dunk of his own – even though he will have to come off the bench.
“I think I should be the starter, but I’m happy to here,” Wall said. “You see the smile on my face. I’m enjoying, so any amount of time I get out there to play I’m going to enjoy myself and represent my family, my friends, the Wizards organization and the fans.”
This weekend has been difficult as Wall’s mother, Frances Pulley, remains hospitalized but the 23-year-old has tried his best to have some fun during a stressful time. And being around the best of the best has given Wall incentive to make multiple returns.
Wall took advantage of a season in which Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo were both sidelined with injuries, but he earned the Eastern Conference coaches’ vote by leading the Wizards into the playoff picture and posting career-high numbers in scoring (19.8) and assists (8.5). He is part of a new generation of all-stars born in the 1990s, along with George and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Portland’s Damian Lillard and New Orleans center Anthony Davis.
“It’s kind of different, but we’ve got a lot of young talent in the NBA that’s starting to develop and prove that they belong in the NBA on an all-star level,” Wall said. “I think this league is in a great place.”
When the East players met on Friday, James and Dwyane Wade explained how the league was dominated by Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady., Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett when they made their all-star debuts.
“LeBron was saying they remember when they were the young guys coming in, and having those guys in the locker room,” Wall said. “They kind of let us know that they passing the torch to us and they’re happy for us and excited to see us here for the first time and they know how nervous and anxious you are to be here and all the stuff you’re going through. They said they the old heads.”
James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh have yet to turn 30. They’re old heads?
“Yeah. 11, 10 years in the league, that’s an old head right there,” Wall said with a laugh. “I think they’ve proven themselves in this league and they did so much for this league and still doing stuff and being the face of the league. And that’s a big thing.”
Wall hopes to some day be in a similar position. “We babies coming up. We babies trying to follow the path those guys set,” he said. “Try to make a statement on this league and have a good career. Hopefully, that’s my goal to be one every year from now on. Once you get started, I want to be one until my career is over. That’s my goal, to try to keep improving and try to win games.”